Hollie Davidson will take charge of her first Guinness PRO14 match this weekend after the Scottish match official was appointed to the Round 16 game between Munster Rugby and Benetton Rugby.
Additionally, Joy Neville (IRFU) will serve as Television Match Official for this ground-breaking game which will make this the first fixture in a top-tier men’s professional club rugby that both the referee and TMO roles are filled by female officials.
Davidson is the latest product of the Guinness PRO14’s elite referee pathway and follows in the footsteps of Neville in becoming the second female official to be appointed to a Championship fixture. This appointment comes after Davidson’s initial debut was pencilled in for Round 11 fixture between Glasgow Warriors and Benetton Rugby, which was postponed due to severe weather conditions.
The 28-year-old is highly accomplished and after playing scrum-half for Scotland at Under 20s level she set her sights on becoming a professional referee and reached that milestone in 2017 as Scotland’s first full-time match official.
Davidson was selected at the Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens (2017), Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens (2018), Women’s Six Nations (2019 & 2020) in addition to her numerous appointments as an assistant referee in the Guinness PRO14.
Greg Garner, Elite Referee Manager of PRO14 Rugby, said: “Our elite referee pathway has greatly improved in recent years thanks to the efforts of our unions working together and it is very rewarding to see Hollie Davidson earn the right to make her debut this Friday after the disappointment of the postponement a few weeks ago. The elite pathway has been put in place to identify match officials with the potential to referee at Test level and as a result we have now seen Andy Brace (IRFU) and Mike Adamson (SRU) appointed for Guinness Six Nations games this season. In addition, Joy Neville (IRFU) has also performed the role of TMO in Rounds 1 and 4 of the Six Nations.
“It is also ground-breaking for the sport that Joy has been selected as the TMO for the game. We have a competitive group of referees now and it is great to see younger officials pushing through looking to hold the whistle on the biggest occasions.
“Andy Macpherson, Tappe Henning and their team at Scottish Rugby have played a huge role in putting Hollie into this position and ensuring she was given the right opportunities to progress her refereeing career. Hollie now gets her opportunity to perform and we all expect her to kick on and join the likes of Adam Jones and Craig Evans (WRU), Chris Busby (IRFU) and Andrea Piardi (FIR) in working to establish themselves firmly in our Elite Referee Squad.”
Davidson is a regular on the match official panel for the Sevens World Series and had been slated for the Tokyo Olympics prior to its rescheduling and was also set to make her debut at senior level in the men’s game in January before Rounds 3 and 4 of the European Challenge Cup were postponed and in the Guinness PRO14 prior to the postponement of the Glasgow Warriors v Benetton Rugby game.
The Match Officials for Round 16 of the Guinness PRO14 are listed below alongside Live TV Broadcast information.
Friday, March 19
Munster Rugby v Benetton Rugby – KO 18:00
Thomond Park, Limerick
Referee: Hollie Davidson (SRU, Championship Debut)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy and Rob O’Sullivan (both IRFU)
TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)
Live on TG4, eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 1, DAZN, Super Sport (SA), ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.
Ulster Rugby v Zerbe Rugby Club – KO 20:15
Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 63rd Championship Appearance)
Assistant Referees: Eoghan Cross and Peter Martin (both IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)
Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 1,DAZN, Super Sport (SA), ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.
Leinster Rugby v Ospreys Rugby – KO 20:15
RDS Arena, Dublin
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU, 7th Championship Appearance)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher and Stuart Gaffikin (both IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)
Live on TG4, eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 2, Super Sport (SA), ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.
Sunday, March 21
Dragons Rugby v Glasgow Warriors – KO 15:00
Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU, 34th Championship Appearance)
Assistant Referees: Aled Evans and Gwyn Morris (both WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)
Live on Premier Sports 2, eir Sport 2, Super Sport (SA), ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.
Deferred: 22:00 S4C Sunday
Monday, March 22
Scarlets v Connacht – KO 20:00
Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 72nd Championship Appearance)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies and Rhys Jones (both WRU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)
Live on S4C, TG4, Premier Sports 2, Super Sport (SA), ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.
Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh – KO 20:00
Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 189th Championship Appearance)
Assistant Referees: Adam Jones and Wayne Davies (both WRU)
TMO: Rhys Thomas (WRU)
Live on Premier Sports 1, eir Sport 2, Super Sport (SA), ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.